Why India Would Be “Keenly Awaiting” Iranian Response To Israeli Cyberattack On Its Nuclear Facility?

Why is India growing apprehensive of China’s cyber-warfare capabilities? Recently, Indian Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat said that China has the capability to carry out cyberattacks against India and create turbulence in the country.

General Rawat has spoken of the cyber threat posed by China at a time when there was a blackout in Mumbai in October last year. Many experts had pointed fingers at China. The Mumbai blackout was linked to the India-China border dispute in the Ladakh region where soldiers of both nations were locked in an acrimonious stand-off.

According to US-based cybersecurity company RecordedFuture, a Chinese company named Red Echo was behind the cyber attacks.

Key Judgement By Record Future

  • The targeting of Indian critical infrastructure offers limited economic espionage opportunities; however, we assess they pose significant concerns over potential pre-positioning of network access to support Chinese strategic objectives.
  • Pre-positioning on energy assets may support several potential outcomes, including geostrategic signaling during heightened bilateral tensions, supporting influence operations, or as a precursor to kinetic escalation.
  • RedEcho has strong infrastructure and victimology overlaps with Chinese groups APT41/Barium and Tonto Team, while ShadowPad is used by at least 5 distinct Chinese groups.
  • The high concentration of IPs resolving to Indian critical infrastructure entities communicating over several months with a distinct subset of AXIOMATICASYMPTOTE servers used by RedEcho indicate a targeted campaign, with little evidence of wider targeting in Recorded Future’s network telemetry.

China Responds

China vehemently rejected the allegations. However, cyber-security experts stated quoted by the BBC stated –  “You compare this attack with the MRI process. When you have an MRI, every weakness of your body can be seen. Similarly, the Chinese hackers may have come to know about the weaknesses of Indian power systems.

According to a report by the Belfer Center of Harvard University in the US, China is the second powerful country in the cyber world after the United States.

Chart displaying the top-10 cyber powers as ranked in the index this year. In order, they are: United States; China; United Kingdom; Russia; Netherlands; France; Germany; Canada; Japan; Australia
Chart displaying the top-10 cyber powers as ranked in the index this year. In order, they are: United States; China; United Kingdom; Russia; Netherlands; France; Germany; Canada; Japan; Australia

On the other hand, India is among the top five countries in the world, which are most affected by cybercrime.

According to experts talking to the EurAsian Times, cyberattacks can be devastating and can be considered as an act of war that can destroy India-China ties.

Recently, Israel ‘confirmed’ that it was behind a cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear facility which the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy chief characterized as an act of terrorism that required a response against its perpetrators.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the struggle against Iran and its proxies and the Iranian armament efforts is a huge mission”. “The situation that exists today will not necessarily be the situation that will exist tomorrow,” he added.

Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, urged International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to take action against the perpetrators of the attack. He confirmed that a “terrorist attack” had damaged the electricity grid of the Natanz site.

Experts talking to the EurAsian Times, who wished to stay anonymous, said that even though India and China are de-escalating the border conflict, Chinese cyberattacks or threats can be considered very dangerous and can again inflame the border tensions, to say the least.

And Israeli cyberattacks on Iranian nuclear facility or a Chinese attack on Indian facilities can have severe repercussions and Beijing needs to understand that. Probably Tehran could set an example, the expert notes.

According to Bloomberg, the case of Chinese cyber attacks was discussed with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during his recent visit to India. India has apparently decided to seek US assistance in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, the news agency said.